Shockwaves

Twitter Q&A: Readers ponder conference change, scheduling and NCAA at-large fears

Wichita State junior guard Conner Frankamp is coming off one of his better games this season, scoring 11 points at Northern Iowa.
Wichita State junior guard Conner Frankamp is coming off one of his better games this season, scoring 11 points at Northern Iowa. The Wichita Eagle

Here we go. Thanks for the questions:

The American, and all other conferences, know Wichita State is interested. An application will be a formality if anything is happening. Is anything happening? WSU has been quiet. Its work is done to the extent it put itself on the radar. Now it wants to let things play out and get a read on how seriously it is a possibility.

There hasn’t been a rush of national sources to follow up the earlier report, which makes me believe that story was driven by coaches. That doesn’t mean it’s not serious; it gets more serious if athletic directors are talking. People around the AAC offer different thoughts. Some take WSU seriously; others don’t.

Consider this: What if the interest from the American pushes the Atlantic 10 to take a harder look at WSU? Even if the American possibility is slim, WSU benefits by getting its name out there.

The MVC says the games won’t be announced until after the season. Mark Anderson of the Las Vegas Review-Journal reports that UNLV will play at Northern Iowa next season. The Rebels are agitating for a visit from Wichita State down the road.

The Shockers should be at home next season, so I’ll guess Wyoming or Utah State, both of which had home games this season. Nevada seems to be the rising power in that conference. Perhaps either WSU or Nevada will be asked to go on the road two seasons in a row.

Jake White is from Minnesota. Evan Wessel would be a hard-working defenseman. Ron Baker’s got the Gretzky hair.

I think social media kills that. Coaches don’t want to tone things down during the season to account for outside eyes. Practice time is guarded aggressively by coaches.

I wish WSU would do more before the season to give people a look. It’s a long break from March until October and Shocker Madness seems like a small appetizer. I’m old enough to remember when WSU would do a charity scrimmage or something similar. That seems like a nice reward for a community that supports its team so strongly.

No.

If you’re asking for WSU to play guarantee games or 2 for 1s, I would say there is little chance of that happening. Gonzaga did that early in its rise. The Zags and Shockers schedule similarly. Gonzaga will play in Seattle and go to your city. I don’t see them going places without some kind of a return.

Wichita State’s done a fine job of scheduling. No reason to change course because of this season.

Illinois State certainly appears to be WSU’s biggest challenger. I wouldn’t count the game at Missouri State as an easy win. Loyola shoots it well enough that a game at Gentile Arena might be interesting.

Needs to be that way, doesn’t it?

You’ve got to figure the Shockers are due for better pitching luck, especially with injuries. Willie Schwanke’s return is big and coaches liked some of the new arms this fall.

The offense should be strong. Defense is a question. The Shockers need to field better and get to more balls to help the pitchers.

I would consider Dallas Baptist the MVC favorite. Until the Shockers prove they can win eight in a row, 10 of 12, 15 of 20, skepticism is earned. They can’t bury themselves like they did last season (4-11) or in 2015 (3-9).

WSU hasn’t won more than five in a row since it had two 7-0 streaks in 2011.

Conner Frankamp is shooting 34.8 percent from three-point range. He could dramatically boost an already strong offense if his shooting, and driving, improves. As it is, he’s helpful. Defenders don’t go under screens against him. Nobody wants to be the team that lets him get hot. And he runs the offense smoothly and efficiently, making himself an important part of a winning team.

Can he do more? He’s not going to average 20 points, but can he shoot 39 percent from three? Can he get to the foul line more often? Can he give the Shockers a jolt like he did at Northern Iowa three out of five games?

Adding those components seem reasonable and important.

Coaches see it in flashes. So do we. Marshall regularly says he wants Frankamp to be more aggressive, which has to mean he sees the potential for more. He’s not telling us that Frankamp’s offense is a bonus, or Frankamp needs to be more careful with the ball and shot selection.

At this point, it’s fair to wonder how much more scoring is there. Frankamp is 45 games into his WSU career and he averages 6.2 points and is shooting 38.8 percent from the field.

There’s plenty of time for him to make a bigger impact, while still limiting turnovers.

If you look at Frankamp’s kenpom.com numbers, he’s playing well lately. He didn’t give WSU much toward the end of non-conference play. He’s had four of his top eight offensive rating games since Dec. 22.

With an RPI ranked No. 95, that number is shrinking. Two? If that’s the case, WSU has to split with Illinois State. A road win will help the RPI quite a bit, but nobody will feel good if a win over Illinois State leads the NCAA at-large resume.

It’s a tough spot. Oklahoma, LSU and Colorado State just aren’t helping out and the loss to Oklahoma State looks worse with the Cowboys 0-3 in the Big 12 entering Wednesday.

Paul Suellentrop: 316-269-6760, @paulsuellentrop

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